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OSA only used against whistleblowers but not profiteers?

Media Statement   
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday) : The Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) co-ordinator Charles Santiago has revealed government double standards on  the government use of Official Secrets Act (OSA) in connection with privatization contracts, raising the pertinent question where the OSA is used only against whistleblowers but not profiteers.


This also raises the question whether Malaysians  have a government and Cabinet of the people or they have Ministers who are  just acting to protect the interests of  concession companies and profiteers.


Santiago said the water privatization contract between the Selangor state government and Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), which is also alleged to be protected by the OSA,  had been disclosed  to potential investors in 2005 painting a glowing picture of Syabas’ financial prospects with details that could only have come from the classified document.


Is Samy Vellu demanding that the OSA should be used against an equity research firm, Kim Eng Research, which had issued a report divulging details which could only have come from the water concession agreement, as well as against  those in Syabas and/or Puncak Niaga Holdings who had violated the OSA in communicating such official secrets to unauthorized persons?


Kim Eng Research had issued a report  in April 2005 on Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd (which owns 70 per cent of Syabas) entitled “Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd – Deserve a second look!”, making the “Buy” recommendation for its investors.


Or do we have a situation where the OSA is used to protect privatization contracts from being exposed for its “lop-sidedness and short-changing the public”, but where OSA is not invoked so long as the details of the concession are used to flog for funds and investors in the marketplace?


The father of Malaysian privatization, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad conceded  only last month that toll concession agreements were not well-conceived during his tenure as prime minister and  that he suspected the highway operators were now reaping huge profits from the toll hikes.


Admitting that the Cabinet could have done a better job, Mahathir said: 

“The cabinet is not made up of experts. They are made up by politicians and some politicians like myself can be very stupid. What happens when you have an agreement is that the officers make the agreement and the agreement is sent to the cabinet and usually the small print is not there.

“Cabinet merely passes on the basis of principle. They do not really study the implication of some passages in the agreement.”

Samy Vellu should have acted on the very broad hints given by his former political master of 23 years that these “lopsided” privatization contracts should be reviewed, including removing the OSA, to allow for public scrutiny and debate, instead of digging his toes in and being so “bloodthirsty” in demanding OSA prosecution to protect the various iniquities in the LDP concession contract.


Samy Vellu should also not be guilty of double standards in the application of the OSA and being a party to selective prosecution for OSA offences which entail the repugnant minimum mandatory jail sentence of one year, which he helped to put on the statute books in 1986.


The least he should do after being a party to so many lopsided highway toll concessions  as Cabinet Minister which are inimical to the public interest  is to call for a halt of all OSA investigations to enable a full review of OSA, particularly in the context of privatization contracts, in line with the reform pledge by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for accountability, transparency, integrity  and good governance.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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